Cheese, Dahlonega, Sandwiches, Southern Culture, Spreads
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The Sandwich Diaries – Pi(π)mento Cheese

For most of my adult life, I’ve called a major city home. I thrived on the crammed, multi-laned arteries winding into the city center, thrilled at the packed sidewalks and stores, immersed myself in the fighting throngs at the malls during the holidays…

Thankfully,

this is where I now call home. 2 and a half years ago I moved into the North Georgia mountains to Dahlonega, Georgia – and never looked back.

At first, I was seriously afraid that I wouldn’t be able to adjust to the relaxed pace and the complete lack of traffic. In the beginning, that was entirely true. There just isn’t a lot happening  in a day-to-day kind of way.

North Town Square

But Dahlonega – and the North Georgia Mountains – are anything but backwoods. Dahlonega is a tourist town. There are local artists, antique stores, 15 restaurants within walking distance of the old court house (which houses the Gold Museum…)
Yes, you read right… Gold.

Dahlonega and the neighboring Auraria were the sites
of the first major gold rush in the United States…
years before that little thing out west.

As well as a host of quirky inns and B&B’s, 4 recognized arts festivals, and no less than 6 stellar vineyards. There’s a lot going on.. it’s just calmer than the city.

Although it’s been here for years, I’ve never stopped in at Connie’s before. But with me becoming Jane’s designated driver (at least for the time being) I usually find myself stuck in town at lunchtime, so I’ve been making my rounds of the available eateries. Like the sign says – it’s Sandwiches and Ice Cream. I hear they make a killer chicken salad.
But what got my motor kicking today was this:

The Pimento Cheese Burger

Pimento Cheese… It’s a Southern Thing.

And – it’s exactly what it sounds like.. Chopped Pimentos, Cheddar Cheese, Mayo…
it’s pretty damn near heaven between 2 slices of Colonial Bread.
I’d love to tell you that Clara or my grandmother slaved in the kitchen making it… but they didn’t. I can’t even say I ever had it at granny’s.
Our pimento cheese came from Mrs. Kinser’s… in the dairy cooler at the local Winn Dixie.
But having it on that burger today really brought back childhood memories and tastes, and I wanted to come straight home and make some.
However… Jane is lactose intolerant.. and allergic to the dye used to color American cheddar – so I’ve had to use a couple of alternative ingredients. I’ll give you the full-on recipe as well, but the lactose-free version is pretty damned tasty.
Note ~ Lactose Free does not mean Dairy Free. I’ve used real cheese in the mix. Cabot’s White Extra Sharp Cheddar and their Seriously Sharp Cheddar are both 100% lactose free – and without coloring. As far as I know, Cabot’s Cheese is the only Lactose Free cheddar on the market.
And, since I’m using  white cheddar, the thought of chocking it full of red pimento pieces was almost nauseating – coming off looking like some sort of peppermint spread.
So, Instead I’ve used the yellow Dulcetta Peppers and made my own pimento. Dulcetta peppers are what you see in the market labeled as “Sweet Mini Peppers”. These are a hybridized pepper with more in common with the pimento. They are more aromatic and sweeter than a bell pepper, and turned out especially well as a substitute.
Pimento Cheese Spread
Makes About 2 Cups
Ingredients
2 Cups Grated White Cheddar Cheese
1/4 Cup Sour Cream (I used Tofutti Soy Sour Cream for Jane’s needs)
1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
1/2 Cup Prepared Pimento (See Below)
A Good Glug of Worcestershire Sauce
3 to 4 Dashes Tabasco Sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste
Pimentos:
8 to 10 Yellow Dulcetta Peppers – Seeded
1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
1 Teaspoon White Vinegar
2 Cups Water
Dash Sugar
Medium Sauce Pan
Medium Mixing Bowl
Spatula
To Prepare the pimentos:
  • Seed  and cut the peppers in half
  • With the sauce pan on high, add the peppers, lemon juice, vinegar and sugar and bring to a boil
  • Boil on high for 10 minutes then set off the heat and allow to cool
  • The peppers should be limp and floppy but not mush
  • Dice into 1/4″ pieces
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
To Make your Spread:
  • Add the cheese, mayo, sour cream, Worcestershire and Tabasco to a large mixing bowl and stir to combine
  • Continue stirring everything together until the mix begins to look like large curd cottage cheese (About 5 minutes)
  • Add the diced pimento and fold in to incorporate
  • Pack into a container and allow to chill for a minimum of 8 hours to allow the flavors to merge.
  • Serve with Crackers, Crostini, or schmear 1/2 a cup between 2 slices of white bread and eat em’up.
To make Full-On
 Old Fashioned Pimento Cheese Spread
Makes about 3 Cups
Ingredients
2 Cups Grated Yellow Cheddar – Packed
8 Ounces Cream Cheese – Softened
1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
Pinch Garlic Powder
1 Jar Pimento – Drained and Diced
1 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 Teaspoon (or more to suit your taste) Tabasco Sauce
  • Add all the ingredients to a large mixing bowl and stir well to combine
  • Pack into containers and thoroughly chill before serving

2 Comments

  1. I actually am going to clarify something here. All cheddars may be "lactose reduced" and for someone with a marginal intolerance level – "any" cheddar may work for you. However, I deal with someone who is 100% lactose intolerant – so we have to be more diligent in sourcing out an acceptable cheese. Cabot's Extra Sharp and Seriously Sharp varieties have been aged long enough to remove all but negligible trace amounts of lactose and this makes them one of the very few cheddars we can eat. I am sure there are small batch makers and artisanal cheese companies that go the extra mile to produce quality cheeses. But, in a world of mass produced cheeses, that's a rarity in bulk packaged cheese.

  2. Okay… so here's the real scoop. All cheddar cheese is lactose free. We just happen to want to make sure people know it 😉 That said, I'm completely partial & bias, but I say even if other cheddars are also lactose free, ours tastes the best. We aren't called "World's Best Cheddar" for nothin'. And on behalf of the 1200+ farm families who own Cabot Creamery, many thanks for the mention! Regan Jones, RDfor Cabot Creamery

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